If you’ve had any long exposure to the church system, there’s a chance you’ve heard an excessive improper use of the 1 Corinthians chapter 13, known as the Love Chapter. In 1 Corinthians chapter 13 there are character descriptions of love, but often it’s used a the chapter in the Bible that defines love. Personally I think there is a difference between a character description and the actually definition of a person, place, or thing…in this case Love.
If I saw to you my husband is a handsome, funny, nerdy, intelligent, sometime creepy, and strong man then you have a very brief character listing of my husband. If I posted a picture with no description, then you’d make your own assumptions about what kind of person he might be. However if you meet him, depending on the day & company his with, you might have a completely different idea of what kind of person he might be. Experiential definitions are super important.
If we read 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and say “this is what love is” it’d really be hard to put into practice in all the applications of life, or even to sift through different moments of our life and say “ah ha! there’s love!” because it’s only a brief character list. There’s more to love than the quick sentiments shared in 1 Corinthians 13.
However, this one particular chapter is important, because how many times do we lose sense of what love truly is in our world & culture around us? Love becomes to vaguely used we forgot what the core characteristics of love actually are. Moreover, sometimes “love” becomes a foreign word and we don’t know what it means anymore.
There’s beautiful older song by Avett Brothers called “I and Love and You” which talks about how the three word of (or the combination there of) “I” and “Love” and “You” have become difficult to voice. Sometimes I think that’s an anthem that many of us can relate to, and can agree with. Sometimes words or phrase like, “I love you” have depreciation value set in so deep that the words are useless. Other times these words are so hard to use because we hold them so sacredly that there is no matching it.
Sometimes the most beautiful phrase get lost in our perception of the world around us. Other times, it’s stolen from us.
There are times in life when I’ll be listening to new album from a favorite band or I’ll be really into one or two specific songs, and at that time I also happen to meet a person. Now this song reminds me of that person because they happen to come into my life about the same time. Well an occasion, when that relationship or friendship might go sour, I’d stop listening to those songs or sometimes that band because it so reminds me of that person who’d now brought hurt or shame into my life. Those beautiful songs become lost to me, at least for a long while if not forever.
We have this same problem with words and phrase, and unfortunately sometimes the most beautiful ones are the ones we lose.
Sometimes the word “love” doesn’t really seem to mean Love anymore. It because nullified. Sometimes the phrase “I love you” starts to mean “I own you” or “you owe me” or worst things than that. Sometimes the beautiful is stripped of its worthiness and we can’t bear these words anymore.
It’s curious to me, how it seems like more people at a younger age have horrorific words coming out of their mouth on a regular bases and no one shrugs or blushes or flinches in the least, afterall “they’re just being real” or “sometimes there’s no other word that really expresses that”. I totally can’t agree. How profanities are rapidly on the rise and words and phrase like “I love you” are declining in meaning… that my friends, is a strange and messed up world to embrace. Instead of embracing it, I’m going to suggest there’s something wrong there. Maybe something is being covered up. Maybe there’s a lot of hurt that happened to nullify the beautiful things, and all we’re left with is the ugly venomous things.
The Bible has this super simple statement, “From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”
Unfortunately in world of broken hearts where words are used for manipulation, words become nullified and often we don’t take the time to really consider what we’re saying or implying or what we mean to say. …and too often this continues to add to the hurt.
Thus we find ourselves back at places like 1 Corinthians 13, which remind us of some original characteristic of love. Things we had forgotten. Things we stopped considering. And some things we find aren’t there at all, but we had put them on it because of our bad experiences. At times something like 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us of we’ve been thinking about love under false assumptions. We haven’t actually addressed love in its purest form, and maybe we stopped believing that such a version of love exist. …and somehow, when we don’t see and don’t strive for it, it does stop existing around us.
When we allow our bad experiences to define our words, our phrases, and our expressions then we lose the freedom that comes from understanding the core characteristics of what these things can mean. Phrases like “I love you” can be painful instead of beautiful. If there is ever to be a time where I can listen to those old songs again, or where we can hear the phrase “I love you” again, then we’re going to have to remember the core essences of where the beauty lies more than we remember the hurt that came along with these familiar notes.
If we’re ever going to be in place where we can say “I love you” with more force and power than we say F.U. then we’re going to have to find a way to believe in the power & core of Love more than hate. We’re going to have to be willing to make a change that will remind us of some of the pain that brought us here, because getting stronger hurts a little bit. It pushes us to our limits. But being weak hurts all the time, and we hurt others all the time. Being pushed around by every experience and every sharp word brings our spirits certain death, and out of that overflow we bring forth death into the words from our lips and our experiences towards other. …unless we chose to interrupt this cycle. Unless we chose to seek core truths. Unless we start thinking about what we really mean and what we really intend to do with our lives & our words. Unless we reestablish our core, we will be pushed around by every experience and by every sharp word. Sometimes this happens, but we need to reestablish our footing, and get up and get at it again.
The brief character list in 1 Corinthians 13 won’t be the absolute healing power to redeem love for us, but it will tell us where to find love and what she looks like. From there we have to have a strength to approach Love and be willing to be in an experiential relationship with love. Then somewhere along the line, we might be able to begin to distinguish between our faulty experiences with “love” and that which love truly can be. If we chose to continue to do this regularly we might even find that love has found us, that words have meaning. that profanities are for the weak and hurting. …and we all hurt, but we don’t all have to dwell in our hurts. We can be a people who heal, who grow strong, who break spiraling cycles.
Choice is powerful. Thought is innovative. We can be who we choose to be, if we’re willing to try. Are we willing?